Novice breeder case study

Mrs Ali Shelton
 

Mrs Ali Shelton

Ali Shelton, 47 from Ramsden Heath in Essex, has been an Assured Breeder for almost three years. She has bred four litters of Labrador puppies and became part of the only dog breeders to be certified by a UKAS accredited body after receiving an inspection visit in January 2014. Here she explains why she joined the Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) and her experiences so far.

When and why did you start breeding?

I first thought about breeding dogs a few years ago because I had a bitch with a wonderful temperament, and once I had made that decision I was determined to do it well. I carried out extensive research beforehand and made full use of the Kennel Club's website and had many a long discussion with my vet who has always been, and still is, very supportive to me and a keen supporter of the ABS.

Why did you join the Assured Breeder Scheme?

I decided to join the ABS because I wanted the confidence and the reassurance that I was doing all of the right things by my girls and the breed. As a novice breeder, it was reassuring to be able to tick the boxes and to have access to help and guidance.

How did you feel about having a visit from a standards assessor?

I knew that inspections were part of the process and, for me, that is one of the key strengths of the scheme. This is even more true now that they are compulsory for existing and established breeders as well as anyone joining the scheme before they start breeding and for every three years thereafter. The inspection process means anybody who is making mistakes or perhaps not doing enough for their dams, sires or puppies will be asked to make changes, and if they can't or won't they will be removed from the scheme. I was very much looking forward to my assessment and I believe this new process will enhance the reputation of breeders on the scheme and give better clarity to puppy buyers.  It has certainly helped me, as a novice, to ensure that I am doing everything right.

How did you find the assessment visit?

I had my first inspection recently and the whole process was efficient and professional. I found the standards assessor to be personable and knowledgeable. We struck a note on many things. She was with me for two or three hours and we went through a questionnaire together, which covered issues such as the place I live and how it is set up for breeding, my motivation for breeding, what steps I take in rearing my puppies, what I think is important for the breed. The whole process was very open and she told me her views and well as listening to mine. She came around the premises and saw the pups in their day-to-day environment, so the whole thing was a reassuring, positive and enjoyable experience.

What is the biggest advantage to being an Assured Breeder?

One of the biggest advantages of the scheme, for me, is that I wanted to ensure that there was a clear distinction between me and the many puppy farmers that are sadly ruining so many dogs' lives within our breed. I have seen too many dogs being sold online and in the papers for £300 or less, and I know that there is tragic story behind each of them. I am committed to health screening and DNA testing so that problems within the breed can be lessened, and I want to be part of a scheme that supports this responsible attitude to breeding.

Many puppy buyers have found me through the Assured Breeder List, or through the free Find a Puppy online listing that Assured Breeders get when they have a litter and that is very reassuring. I am glad that people are coming to me, and even if I can't help them with a puppy at the time I spend time discussing what to look for when researching a responsible breeder or healthy puppy and always try and point them in the direction of another responsible breeder instead.

I know that there are a lot of other benefits that I would like to make use of, such as the discounts on health testing, but in my view the credibility that comes with the scheme, the confidence that you have guidance and are doing the right things, and the reassurance that I am helping the breed I love so much by giving puppy buyers a point of difference between me and the unsavoury breeders out there, makes it money exceedingly well spent.

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